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A Walmart Cashier Saved Me From an Impulse Buy


There is one area of my spending that I need to keep an eye on – impulse buying. For the most part, I’ve done well with keeping it bay. However, here are certain instances where money doesn’t matter. I had such an episode last weekend.

With my husband going to the doctors and being told to change his diet (less sodium), I overreacted a bit. I see that now in hindsight. We hopped in the car and headed to Walmart. The main goal of the trip was to purchase healthier food. We went up and down the aisles, looking at the nutrition labels. Both my husband and I couldn’t believe how much sodium was in many of the foods that we regularly eat. Polish kielbasa? I don’t even remember what it said. All I know is that I dropped it out of my hand so fast you would have thought it was on fire.

I had a similar reaction to quite a few products. We love sandwiches and when we made it to the lunch meat section I was shocked. I think I looked at every brand they had and all of them were loaded with sodium. Then the light bulb went off in my head. We’ll cook our own meat and slice it. That will definitely be healthier for us than the processed meat.

After we finished in the grocery section, we headed over to the kitchen appliance section and looked for a slicer. No such luck. I did end up finding a small tool that claimed to slice things as well as create wonderful french fries (a slicer/dicer). I plopped it into our cart and we headed to the checkout.

Our cashier was friendly and started ringing up our groceries. She picked up the slicer/dicer tool and looked me straight in the eyes. She paused just a bit before speaking.

“I have to be honest with you,” she said. “This is a horrible product. It says it makes fries but it makes mush. I used to have one and it was awful.”

I thanked the cashier for giving me her opinion and I asked her to set the slicer/dicer aside. I was so very close to impulse buying that slicer/dicer. We can do without one for now. When things are looking better financially we may buy one. In the meantime, we’ll rig up something.

Thank you Walmart cashier for giving a helping hand during a time of weakness for me πŸ™‚


  • Reply KP |

    do you have access to a farmer’s market? these are good places to purchase healthy food cheaply. plus, you would be supporting local farmers and consuming less energy, since the amount used to get products to market is much lower vs. commercial produce.

  • Reply Debtfretter |

    Hi Tricia,
    Consider making a roast on Sunday nights – even though it might seem expensive, we find the meat lasts on sandwiches all week and often saves us from buying lunches. Just cut it from the bone when you need it instead of buying a slicer.
    Most processed foods are full of sodium and are best avoided. Anything Polish or Eastern European is a definite giveaway that it will be salty.
    If it is your husband’s blood pressure that is the problem, I hope it does improve. Exercise definitely helps too.

  • Reply jrochest |

    If you want a good slicer, look on ebay for a “mandoline”. They’re basically a razor blade mounted on something that looks like a grater, with a series of attachments that allow you to make fries, diced or jullienned veggies, and a number of other things.

    Make sure you get one that includes a holder for the food and always use it even if it’s clumsy or awkward: you slice/grate VERY fast with one of these and it’s very easy to lose a fingertip!

  • Reply Twiggers |

    What a nice cashier!!!!! Fresh lunch meats definitely have less sodium than packaged lunch meats! Plus, the packaged meats have all kinds of preservatives in them too!!!

  • Reply April |

    You don’t need a slicer. Get a good chef’s knife, which you can use for an infinite number of things. Cook’s Illustrated recommends the Forschner/Victorinox 8-in. Chef’s Knife, which you can get for about $25. We love ours.

    Packaged food in general is going to be high in sodium, preservatives, and all kinds of bad stuff.

  • Reply MeganM |

    I think 99% of gadget-type purchases can be eliminated. No one needs a slicer when a plain old knife will do just fine for sandwich meat.

    Your example of making your own sandwich meat is a great example of why people are wrong when they assume that eating healthier is more expensive. Rather than paying someone else to process your meat, cut it into perfect slices and seal it in an over-priced package, just make it yourself from scratch. Cheaper and healthier. Eating processed foods is much more expensive than eating real, whole foods.

  • Reply bluntmoney |

    I have to admit that my first thought on the meat slicing issue was “why not just use a knife?”

    Good luck with the sodium reduction. I bet you’ll all feel a lot better.

  • Reply Tricia |

    LOL – very true about the knife. But I can’t cut things thin for the life of me. It may be because we have cheap knives.

  • Reply Joy Smith |

    I cut sodium out of my diet years ago, thanks to my ex-in-laws. Don’t you just love wal-mart employees who go out of their way to help people. πŸ˜€

  • Reply Sean |

    We hopped in the car and headed to Walmart. The main goal of the trip was to purchase healthier food.

    Wow, nothing like setting yourself up for failure from the get go… πŸ˜‰ If you want to have even more fun at Walmart, try to fill the cart without buying any high-fructose corn syrup.

    We’ve finally resigned ourselves to the fact that most anything ‘in the aisles’, while tasty and more convenient, is generally a step away from total junk, and now do most of our shopping on the edges (produce, milk/cheese/eggs & meats in most grocery stores).

  • Reply My Crazy Debt |

    I have salt issues myself and know how hard it is to find low sodium food. I find most processed foods are high in salt, so I’m always in the kitchen cooking.

    Try sharpening your knives before you use them. Also stick whatever meat you are cutting in the freezer for 5-10 minutes before cutting. The meat will become firmer and make cutting thin slices easier.

  • Reply Hazzard |

    Finding decent nutrional food at Walmart is very challenging. Between avoiding saturated fat, high fructose corn syrup, high sodium etc you just about have to eat solid natural foods. Everything prepackaged seems to be terrible for you. (And believe me, I’m an expert at eating pre-packaged food).

    The only exception to that is the natural/organic sections of stores. While I’m not exactly a frequent shopper of those sections, I have read a lot of labels on foods in that section and they seem to be much healthier.

  • Reply Pat F. |

    Considering that I am a Walmart cashier that subscribes to your blog it is nice to know that sometimes our input is appreciated! I was just thinking this morning that maybe I am a little too friendly and chatty with my customers but they seem to respond in kind so I guess it is okay! I would not hesitate to mention any feedback that I have had with a product!

  • Reply Tricia |

    Pat – one thing I was wondering about is if Walmart frowns upon doing that. I was very grateful she gave her advice. I will probably look for her lane next time I go to Walmart.

    I know some people do not like input. I used to be a grocery store cashier, and we were encouraged to let customers know of deals like when there is a coupon in a flyer for something they bought. Most customers appreciated it. But there were a few that were bothered by it.

    I used to try to feel out customers when I first said “Hi” to them at the beginning of the order.

  • Reply Brad |

    I have found quite a few products that are reasonably healthy in Walmart. It isn’t perfect, but the balance of health and cost is reasonable.

    French Fry cutters are mostly a waste. I have tried several and never found any that worked really well.

    That said, you should probably avoid fries if you want to be healthy. I guess you could bake them, but the glycemic index of potatoes is horrible.

    I am training myself to eat more vegetables….

  • Reply Renee |

    I find that if I convince myself to research and compare these kinds of products on sites like Amazon before buying, I often realize I don’t even need one in the end! Or, I’ll find a better deal or ratings that convince me not to buy the one I saw in the store. That helps with impulse buying.

    Also, there are some lower-sodium lunchmeat products – I heard a lady asking for one at the counter at wal-mart just the other day.

    Good luck with that!


  • Reply Dasha |

    Tricia, it really does sound like you need a better knife! We got an expensive $100 one with a gift card we received – it was so worth it though that I’d have willingly paid cash! You certainly don’t need to spend that much, just do some research first.

    I’d also like to second the recommendation for farmer’s markets and farm stands.

    For a healthier, cheaper option, try having a vegetarian meal once a week. Try bean chili or bean burritos. If you use dried beans it is very very cheap- you just have to have the foresight to stick them in a pot in the morning.

    Good luck!

  • Reply Emily @ Taking Charge |

    To me, that is one sign of excellent customer service: When someone is actually honest with you about products. It rarely happens, but every once in a while I will have someone tell me something like that candidly. It increases my trust in the business and I am much more likely to go there again. I’m glad they spoke up.

    And yes, the sodium content in processed food is shocking. Needing to eat less of it is an extra good excuse to do more cooking from scratch. And most foods really don’t need any added salt unless you’re baking. I never salt anything.

  • Reply H-Bomb |

    Also did you know you can take the meat to the deli counter and have it sliced?

  • Reply Ab |

    My knife skills aren’t that great so I really wanted a mandolin (I use mine mainly for fruits and veggies). If you decide to get a mandolin – don’t waste your money getting a great big fancy one. I worked at Williams Sonoma and got the opportunity to try all of the expensive multi-blade products out for free. I hated the clean up and even the most expensive ones with rubber feet seemed awkward to use. I tried out an oxo hand held mandolin slicer and that one was easier to use and a snap to clean up (and at a third of the price of regular mandolin slicers you could get two different blade styles and still save space and money!). Good luck with everything.

So, what do you think ?